Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevy announced a plan to boost the force’s presence in East Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods by opening five new police posts – in Ras al-Amud, Jabal Mukkaber, Silwan, Isawiyah and Zur Baher.
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The new police posts were operating out of buildings that are also used for local services, such as the post office and the National Insurance Institute, in a bid to avert the locations becoming points of friction and a target for stone-throwing. The plan is to be spread out over the next 4-6 years, and in the initial stage, the new police posts will only provide services to local residents, such as taking complaints and investigations, but will not be involved in maintaining order.
The move is part of a plan to change police deployment in Jerusalem, which is said to cost 1 billion shekels and will include the recruitment of 1,200 additional police officers. Police say 200 officers have been recruited so far for the new deployment, but that it is not easy to recruit more officers due to the heavy work load.
The plan also calls for hundreds of cameras throughout the city to be connected to a single system called “Jerusalem View,” which will resemble the camera system used in the Old City. The new deployment will also divide the district into two main areas under the command of police brigadier generals.
A police statement said, “The plan aims to make changes that are adapted to the security situation while meeting the daily needs of local residents, and helping to improve the quality of life in the public spaces with enforcement and deterrence against drug offenders, weapons offenders, property crime and violence.”
On Tuesday the Israel Fire and Rescue Services opened a fire station near the Qalandia checkpoint – the first fire station in East Jerusalem beyond the separation barrier. The new station’s two fire trucks are manned by Palestinian firefighters from East Jerusalem.
The barrier separating some of Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods from Jewish West Jerusalem effectively left those areas without fire department protection. Residents have reported that it sometimes takes 40 minutes for firefighters to arrive after they are called.